Image from understandingrisk.org
I just started working on my BugOutBag. For those who are not familiar, a BugOutBag is a collection of items that you can grab quickly in the event of something bad happening. Think major earthquake, terrorist attack, etc.
Oh, he’s one of those guys.
No, I’m not one of those guys. I’m a liberal living in San Francisco. Hear me out.
I work in risk management where you frequently have to decide how much it’s worth spending to be prepared if something bad happens. And I’m going quite minimalist in my approach. I’m not planning for a Siberian meteor strike or a nuclear war–I’m just trying to ensure that I can make it through some dicey times if necessary.
What do I mean by dicey times? Good question.
Imagine you are coming home from work one day and you hear that there’s been a “major terrorist attack” on America. Basically, someone set off around 10 pipe bombs malls across the country, with about 100 dead and many more injured.
You continue driving home and turn on the news when you get there. The news channels are going crazy–partially because they’re actually scared, and partially because they love chaos and drama. They’re speculating at will, and people are staring to panic across the country. Thanks news entertainment. I hope your ratings are excellent.
So you turn off the television for a few hours while you work around the house, and you come back later to check on the situation. You then discover that there has been a run on supplies across the country. Gas stations are selling out and food is leaving the shelves. Oh, and there are reports of looting. You check your local news and evidently there’s no place to get food locally anymore–or at least not safely.
Keep in mind–this is all due to a major overreaction. Things aren’t really that bad. But people think they are, and they’re making it so. That’s a problem. Then you come to find out that groups of people near your house are going door to door robbing and hurting people–taking their supplies and sometimes worse. Probably just hooligans, or else some really scared people who think their families are more important than yours.
So, the question is simple: what would you do? How are you prepared for this? The police aren’t coming. Let’s say your water isn’t running anymore for some reason, and that there’s no more food at the local shops. And there are potentially people out there roaming about who want to come take what you have. What move do you make?
Alternatively, let’s forget the physical threat and just say that there’s no more food on the shelves and the water isn’t running for some reason. Either way, the issue is that you need to survive until things get set back right. The key here is that this isn’t a highly improbably situation. Not with the way our media is reacting to terrorism, or even natural disaster. They love to magnify things to the extreme in order to keep people stuck to their televisions. America reacting poorly to any moderate disruption is a good bet to make.
So what I’m doing is preparing for that. I’m preparing for a relatively minor incident that gets highly distorted by the media and causes a panic. I’m preparing for a lack of easy access to water and food for a short period of time, and potentially some interaction with desperate types looking to steal from those who prepared when they didn’t.
Zombies? No. Nuclear war? No. A 15.0 earthquake? No. I’m not trying to pretend I’m Mad Max here–I’m just weighing the risk of our media turning a relatively minor situation into something far worse than it should be. And if that happens I’ll be ready(er).
So, in short, I’m building out a BugOutBag, and I’m using GitHub to organize and share it. Here is my current build (or click the image above) for others to fork, comment on, and/or ridicule.
If you’ve not thought about doing this until now, I encourage you to do at least something to hedge against this type of risk. You’re not giving in to paranoia by doing so; you’re acknowledging that humans are often silly–especially in groups–and that it’s better to spend very little effort and not need something than to wish you had it when you need it.
Finally, if you don’t actually suck at this like I do, and you want to offer advice on my build, please do so. Croudsourcing this thing can both improve the list and potentially inject some fun into something that’s rather depressing.
1 This is actually not a pure BugOutBag, but instead a hybrid of a BugOutBag and a Survival Kit. In short, BugOutBags are designed for evacuation, while Survival Bags are designed to keep you going for a period of time.